Winslow Homer watercolor sparks dispute

Winslow Homer's 1885 watercolor "Children Under a Palm Tree."
Winslow Homer's 1885 watercolor "Children Under a Palm Tree."

An 1885 watercolor by American artist Winslow Homer was found in a trash pile by a fisherman and his daughter in Ireland in the 1980s. They discovered it was worth around £150,000, and consigned it to a Sotheby's auction in New York in 2009.

After the auction catalog came out, the painting's original owners claimed the work, titled Children Under a Palm Tree, belonged to them and the sale was stopped. For two years, a legal stand-off has ensued over the painting's rightful ownership.

Homer painted the three children of Sir Henry Arthur Blake, a British colonial administrator who lived in the Bahamas in the late 19th century, during a visit with the family.

The Blake family retired to County Cork, Ireland, bringing the watercolor with them. The nagging mystery involves how the painting appeared in a rubbish pile and who is the rightful owner. BBC's program Fake or Fortune? delved into the saga on June 26.

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